Friday, 20 April 2012

Why do you like coming to the SCBWI Conference? Guest blogger: Scott Chambers

Why do you like coming to the SCBWI Conferences? Or if this is your first, what do you hope to find? I asked Scott Chambers, developing-writing, scientist and generally funny man about his thoughts.... 

Since the first time I convinced my better half that it was – at least not an entirely silly and self-serving idea – to attend a SCBWI Australia and New Zealand Conference and hang out at The Hughenden for a couple of days, I have accumulated a significantly more impressive and plausible list of justifications for this semi-regular release of family funds. 

I found the success stories of first-time-published authors particularly inspirational and the opportunities to mingle and chat with like-minded, seasoned authors (who were all surprisingly normal and approachable than the physicists I usually bump into) incredibly motivational; to the point that my writing dreams started to seem much less fanciful.

The organised sessions on writing and the publishing processes in general that I attended were very informative, and there were fantastic opportunities around the swap/sell table to get some wonderful books signed by the authors and illustrators (even though I often stooped to using my son as an excuse).

If I can trust my failing memory at all, when,four years ago I arrived ridiculously early on a Saturday morning for my first SCBWI meet – presumably looking as lost and out of place as I felt – I was called over by the wonderful Sandy Fussell who was enjoying a morning coffee.

I would be hard pressed to think of a better person to welcome me to the fold of children’s authors and illustrators. Though I have yet to earn the right to change my Facebook status from ‘pre-published’, and I continue to annoy family and friends with half-baked drafts, I’m enjoying and learn from the many stages of the writing process; which is the whole point, isn’t it? Or have I missed something entirely? 

Well, since you asked, Sheryl....
I am employed as an Atmospheric Research Scientist in the Institute for Environmental Research at the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (where I mainly make things to capture radon gas and think of inventively weird ways of using it as a passive atmospheric tracer - no, that's right, I don't get out much).
My current escape from publishing scientific bits and pieces in journals only read by people with lab coats and fuzzy sideburns is a fairy (um, correction - faerie) story ... of sorts, that deeply probes the power of Belief and caffeine; it also involves a cantankerous donkey and psychotic cat - but only to fill in the boring bits between all the action and teen Fey romance.
Thus far, my only publication of note is a pillowcase poem, that came out of the 2011 Sydney Writer's Festival; which are still available, so I believe, for all those wanting something a little different on their bookshelves, or an expensive duster.
I'm also the face behind the 'Ask Dudley' columnist and occasional reviewer for Blue Dingo and Bug In a Book e-mags.  


  1. Scott enjoys the journey of being a writer, with its ups and downs. I love his humour which is the humour of the unexpected and exploration of writing. He is definitely a scientist as he's prepared to slowly develop and uncover his craft and interests.

    He also has a secret talent - the guitar - he's entertaining everyone on Saturday night with Meredith Costain author, editor and fantastic singer playing on The Hughenden's baby grand.

  2. I'm looking forward to meeting Scott and enjoying his performance with Meredith.

  3. From all accounts you will not be disappointed. If he plays as well as he writes and quips, best you have some spare coins to toss in the hat! Scott, I hope you take spare pencils and many notes at this year's conference for us not able to make the trek south this year. Susanne, Lesley and Sheryl, I wish you all the very best with all things SCBWI and fervently hope that I am able to join you in a couple of years from now.

  4. Hi folks,

    Wow - comments! I probably should have actually checked back here over the past month, if for no other reason than to seem less aloof and more professional! Thanks all. Yes, I'll be the one with the guitar desperately trying to hide behind Meredith who has more than enough talent for the both of us. Will be great to meet you too Angela (and Sheryl too - unless she'll be locked in a back room of the Hughenden making live SCBWI blog updates =) Ha Dim ... no guarantees that I play any better than I write but, unlike the majority of my writing efforts, I hope to at least finish a song or two on the night =P Oh yes, notes (he says, reminded of the notes I took at last year's CYA conference that I still haven't given you yet). Gosh, what was *THAT*? Look, over there! See you all soon! Scott.

  5. Hmm ... that's interesting - just discovered that wise cracks made within angled brackets vanish somewhere along the HTML conversion pathway ... pfft ... oh well, it was only me sneaking out of the room after the distraction =)